Feb 03 2005
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today joined with Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) to introduce legislation placing a 27.5 percent tariff on all Chinese goods entering the United States. The tariff legislation is in response to China’s decision to continue pegging their currency at a rate of 8.28 yuan to $1 American dollar. “It’s pretty simple – China cheats,” said Graham. “They artificially peg their currency below its true value making their goods cheaper. “Words alone will not change China's behavior,” said Graham. “We've talked this issue to death. It is now time to act.” Economists have estimated the yuan may be undervalued by 15 to 40 percent. China intentionally lowers their currency's value making their goods and services cheap internationally. When Chinese manufacturers export a product, it receives a 15 percent to 40 percent discount which provides them with a nearly insurmountable advantage over U.S. producers. “It’s not about being outworked, or being smarter than the American worker, it’s really about American companies fighting the Chinese government,” said Graham. “I think most American consumers want to make sure that American businesses are protected.” “This is a common ground between Republicans and Democrats, supported by the American manufacturing community,” said Graham. “It’s my belief that if the bill goes to the floor of the U.S. Senate, it will pass.” “The Schumer-Graham legislation gives China ample time to make the necessary, structural changes to the valuation of their currency,” said Graham. “If China wants to be part of the international community, it’s time for them to clean up their act. Until they are reigned in and start playing by the rules, our manufacturing industry will continue to bleed jobs because of unfair Chinese trade practices.” “We need to have a policy of engagement with China that is serious across the board,” said Graham. “Intellectual property theft, manipulating currency, transshipping goods -- there is a variety of activities they engage in that are costing us jobs in the United States. We need to address all of these issues. The tariff bill is a good way to get the Chinese’s attention and show them we are very serious about their cheating.” ##### Summary of the Legislation The legislation helps American workers by addressing the growing problem of China's deliberate undervaluing of its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage. It encourages negotiation with China to level the playing field so that China's goods compete at their true market value. The legislation reduces the export advantage provided by China's unfairly and illegally undervalued currency. After a six-month negotiation period between the US and China, if such negotiations are not successful, the amendment would institute a 27.5 percent tariff on all China's exports to the United States that is symmetrical to China's currency advantage. Most economists estimate China's currency is undervalued between 15 percent and 40 percent; 27.5 percent is at the midpoint of that range. This tariff would apply across the board to products from China and would lay on top of any current tariffs that may apply. If the President determines after 6 months that China is making significant progress towards revaluing its currency, he may delay imposition of the tariff for another 6 months. At the end of the second 6 months, if the President determines that China has developed and started actual implementation of a plan to revalue its currency, he may delay imposition of the tariff for another 12 months. Provides the President with the authority to remove the tariff. The President could remove the tariff once he certifies to Congress that China has agreed to substantially revalue its currency upwards to "at or near its fair market value." The legislation does not specify that China adopt a free floating currency, which many argue could further destabilize the Chinese banking system. Establishes a reasonable time period for negotiations. The legislation authorizes sanctions to begin 180 days after enactment, which allows the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the US Trade Representative, and others a full six months to work with the Chinese Government to institute currency reforms. Works within the framework of international trade laws. Article XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade allows a member of the World Trade Organization to take "any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests," particularly "in time of war or other emergency in international relations". Our nation's manufacturing capability is a vital national interest and we believe it is threatened by China's unfair currency practices.
Feb 02 2005
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement: “The bold vision President Bush laid out in his second Inaugural Address continued tonight in the State of the Union. His message serves as a challenge to the Congress and nation to maintain resolve in the face of serious domestic and international problems. “The President has clearly shown the Congress and American people that it is now time for problem solving, not political posturing. I hope the Congress will rise to the occasion and work with him making our nation more secure both at home and abroad. On Foreign Policy: “The recent successful elections in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown us that freedom is the best antidote to terror. “The President’s request for patience and determination, in terms of our commitment to the war on terror, is well-founded. I hope Congress will heed his counsel. On Social Security: “The President’s focus on Social Security as a national problem demonstrates his willingness to lead where others have chosen to demagogue. We can save and protect the most successful domestic program in history if we act soon. If we delay, the impact of the demographic tidal wave looming on the horizon will swamp our children and grandchildren with a massive amount of debt. “President Bush is correct in pointing out there are no easy solutions. It’s going to require the President, Congress and American people to make some painful choices and some level of sacrifice. It is clear that he is willing to work in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to save the system from impending bankruptcy. “In 1983, President Reagan and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill worked together across party lines to protect Social Security — setting an example for future generations and one we should follow now. “Social Security must be preserved and strengthened. But we need to be candid about the costs and willing to make the tough choices that real reform will require. If we can agree on this, we can save a vital program for generations to come.” #####
Feb 02 2005
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today announced more than $430,000 in grants to fire departments in Clover, Lake City, and Norway. “Firefighters risk their lives to protect others, and they deserve the best equipment and training available,” said Graham. “Firefighters are some of the heroes in our midst.” The grants were awarded in one of two program areas:
- Operations and Firefighter Safety Program: The funds may be used for training, wellness, and fitness programs; the purchase of firefighting equipment and personal protective equipment; and modifications to fire stations and facilities.
- Firefighting Vehicle Acquisition Program: The funds may be used for the purchase of firefighting vehicles including pumpers, brush trucks, tankers, rescue vehicles, ambulances, quints, aerials, foam units, and fireboats.
Feb 01 2005
Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)WASHINGTON – On the heels of the Graniteville accident, one of the worst rail disasters in recent history, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced bipartisan legislation dealing with the transportation of hazardous materials by rail and securing safe passage over rail crossings. Graham introduced the legislation with U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). “South Carolina has learned all-too-well the dangers of railway accidents, particularly those involving toxic chemicals and freight,” said Graham. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed in a bipartisan manner and I’m pleased to work with my colleague on this endeavor. I look forwarded to working with all parties as we improve rail safety in our nation.” According to statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) website, 87 South Carolinians have lost their lives in the period January 1999 until October 2004 in rail accidents. Nationally, 4,689 people have lost their lives in rail accidents over the same period. Major provisions of the legislation include:
- Raising the minimum fine for violations when transporting hazardous material from $550 to $5000 and raising the maximum fine for gross negligence from $27,500 to $2.5 million.
- Requiring the FRA to conduct a one-year national review of rail infrastructure still using manual switches to determine areas where automatic switches should be installed.
- Every fifteen years, each rail car must be taken out of use, inspected, and repaired to meet federal code and ensure its safety before being put back in use. All cars currently in use fifteen years or older must be inspected and brought up to code.
- Requiring FRA to submit a report to Congress in the next year making recommendations as to the safe distance between cars transporting hazardous materials.
- Requiring FRA to conduct a comprehensive safety review of all 250,000 rail crossings in the United States. FRA will also create a list of 10,000 crossings most in need of safety improvement and Congress will authorize funding to the states for upgrades.
- Empowering state hazardous materials (HAZMAT) inspectors to take cars out of circulation when they deem it necessary.
- Require railroad companies to submit a crossing malfunction report within 5 days to the FRA. Each additional day will result in a $5,000 fine.